For immediate release: May 17, 2019
Contact: Rebecca Kopycinski
Artist’s Dystopian Universe Comes to Life On Stage and Off
[BOSTON, MA] -- Multimedia Performance artist Rebecca Kopycinski brings her one-woman show, Reagan Esther Myer, to the stage June 27 through 30 at the Center for the Arts at the Armory in Somerville, MA. The 90-minute show uses video, live music, and theatrical performance to tell a story from the dystopian world she has spent four years creating. The story follows Reagan, a government employee who is suspected of having a glitched ThotBot brain implant. Will the government find out her secrets? Will she find out theirs? It’s as if Black Mirror made a musical episode, but on stage, and with a choir of mannequins singing back-up; definitely not your typical glitched-out extravaganza. It’s a tale full of beautiful electro-pop music, VHS-fueled video spectacle, and terrors born of our social and political zeitgeist. Off stage, several ancillary experiences will invite the audience deeper into the Reagan World.
How does one begin to craft a make believe retro-futuristic society? Rebecca insists she gets all her inspiration from the news. “During the 2016 Presidential Primaries, when I was fleshing out the story, I asked myself, ‘What would it look like it Trump won (ha ha sigh) and everything terrible about our society was blown out to the Nth degree: racism, misogyny, class disparity, climate change?’” Rebecca explains. Toss in an apocalyptic event -- called “Impact” -- and a government mandated brain implant called “ThotBot,” and you have a speculative fiction terrifyingly close to reality. “I came up with this device, ThotBot, which algorithmically applies points to your thoughts, the sum of which is called Value. More than a year later, news broke about China’s social credit score program. I have a class of women known as ULTRAwombs, which are babymakers who are government property, and now all of this legislation coming from Alabama and other states around abortion, laws for your uterus. One Florida politician even referred to women as ‘host bodies.’ Is this for real?! It’s disconcerting. It’s infuriating. It’s bizarre how real events are bringing my creations to life.”
While the line between fiction and nonfiction continues to blur with each news cycle, so too Rebecca hopes to blur the line between our world and hers, immersing audience members in experiences pre- or post-show that deepen one’s understanding of this alternate reality. “Not all of Reagan happens on stage. Think of the entirety of Reagan’s World like a state. You can visit the capitol -- the stage show -- and learn what life is like in that area. But if you explore further, drive around that state, visit the other cities and towns, you absorb so many more tiny details and subtle nuances of that place, the vibe. This project is kind of like that. A quasi Choose Your Own Adventure. I’m just creating the map.” she says, “Right now there’s a website you can visit, the ThotBot Implantation Center, with posters all over town asking ‘IS YOUR THOTBOT GLITCHED? Take the test.’ Then there’s something as simple as listening to the soundtrack and reading the lyrics on my website. Those are live now. In the future, there will be classified government documents available via pdf or obtained with a self-addressed stamped envelope. There will be a podcast. There will be self-help tapes. There will be an exhibition of physical artifacts from this world. There will be a storefront installation in the style of a ThotBot Implantation Center waiting room. These are just a few concepts in the works. It’s a many-tentacled beast. I have years of ideas.” In this way, Rebecca hopes to engage the Reagan audience both before the show and well into the future, always creating new points of entry into this world, always revealing new dimensions, storylines, and details. “It’ll be fun to see how deep people go. Hell, maybe even this article is another pathway in.”
A classically-trained singer, Rebecca spent ten years writing, recording, and performing loop-based music under the moniker Nuda Veritas. Since moving to Somerville from Vermont in 2014, she has established herself as a consummate filmmaker, traveling as far as Europe and the Middle East to capture her client’s stories, one of which bloomed into a feature length documentary. “I like to tell stories,” she says, “I felt limited by the sorts of stories I could tell with music and/or film alone. I wanted to say so much more.” After a collaboration with experimental theater company Liars & Believers, in which Rebecca used music, film, and dialogue to perform a character narrative, her focus shifted to include this new discipline: theater. “That was 2015. I’ve been working on REM ever since.” she says, clarifying that the acronym should be pronounced like the type of sleep, not the 90s band. “I feel like I’ve flipped my process completely. Instead of turning out several projects in the same discipline, I’m employing a million different disciplines to grow the one project.” Indeed, Rebecca, who primarily creates alone, has many creative tools at her disposal including music, video, drama, graphic design, web design, and installation. “It’s like I figured out how to mash-up all of my skills and interests into one massive project, right down to the 80s and 90s VHS aesthetic that permeates the work. The set design includes my TV wall installation, a six foot by six foot array of old tube TVs. I have a choir of mannequins that have speakers embedded in their chests that need to be wired to the vocal synth I created. I have the soldering iron, but only a vague idea how to use it.” The vocal synth to which she refers is a virtual instrument the singer created from her own voice by sampling three octaves of sung notes, creating a digital choir of angels that offers a delicate counterbalance to the sampled drums and spoken word tapes that punctuate the songs on the synthpop album. The Reagan Esther Myer soundtrack is now available for purchase or streaming on all major platforms.
The future of Reagan Esther Myer is bright, Rebecca assures us, even if the future of our society is questionable. “The dystopia is now. In that way, at least, it’s a never-ending stream of inspiration for this project, not that that’s comforting as we see our liberties being threatened. That being said, this project does bring me comfort. In Reagan’s World, I have control over the narrative, over how it ends. You’ll have to see the show for yourself to find out if it gets burned down.”
Reagan Esther Myer will be presented at the Center for the Arts at the Armory at 191 Highland Avenue in Somerville, MA, June 27-30, 2019. The Thursday-Saturday performances are at 7:00 PM. The Sunday performance is at 4:00 PM. Tickets are $25 and on sale now at The Dig Box Office, http://digboxoffice.com. Volunteer opportunities are available in exchange for free or reduced price tickets. Please contact Rebecca at firstname.lastname@example.org for details. Visit reaganesthermyer.com for more information about the show or to listen to the REM soundtrack.